‘Lace up; ‘teal’ up and walk your way’ is the motto behind Ovarian Cancer Canada’s now 18th annual, national walk in support of its vision to see women affected by ovarian cancer live fuller, better, longer lives.
Launched in 2002, and typically held each year in September (Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month), the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope is the largest and most powerful event of its kind in the country. It is the only walk in Canada that directs all attention and fundraising towards helping women with ovarian cancer and driving change on outcomes of the disease. The Walk engages some 7,000 participants in 35 communities nationwide and has raised a cumulative total of $29 million since it began almost 20 years ago.
While COVID-19 restrictions and heath guidelines have changed this year’s event, dedicated ‘Teal Sisters’ (women diagnosed with the disease), volunteers, and participants across the country are poised and ready to ensure the Walk goes on – safely, virtually, and with a strong sense of purpose and unity.
“Living through this pandemic has been complex and hard for Canadians and also for health charities,” says Elisabeth Baugh, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada. “The determination, strength, and support we’ve seen in this community and from Canadians for this cause, and during such a difficult time, convinced us we could make this year’s Walk happen. Our community has a history of rising to any challenge – we know how to pivot and innovate.”
Taking the Walk Virtual: What it Looks Like
Aptly named, “The Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope: The Virtual Edition,” this year’s event, takes place on Sunday, September 13. Participants across Canada are invited to walk individually in their own neighbourhoods or gather in small numbers that adhere to local health guidelines, while leveraging online platforms and outreach to raise funds and support.
‘Walking your way’ can include a few options – a walk, run, cycle, or wheelchair route around the block, at a favourite weekend spot, or a light jog or run on your treadmill. Whatever people choose, participants are invited to snap and share pictures of their ‘walk’ on social media using the hashtag #WalkofHope. A virtual, “Why I Walk…” banner is already up and running on Ovarian Cancer Canada’s website to facilitate the sharing of inspiring messages. Ovarian Cancer Canada will also host an online and virtual ‘Closing Ceremonies’ for the Walk later that day, featuring musical guests and entertainment; greetings from Elisabeth Baugh, CEO; messages from ‘Teal Sisters’ across Canada; and awards and prizes for top fundraisers and other achievements.
Personal Connection to Disease Sparks Action
Ovarian cancer claims the lives of five Canadian women daily, with some 3,000 women across Canada diagnosed with the disease each year. Bettina Caroli, of Montreal, Quebec, first became involved with Ovarian Cancer Canada in 2019, when she organized a Spin-a-thon fundraiser honouring her late aunt, Angela, who passed away from the disease in 2012. She’s leading a local Walk and sees it as a way to take action, while also honouring her aunt’s memory.
“My aunt was a force of nature. She was this strong, hilarious woman who was not afraid of anything. I remember thinking, well, it’s cancer, cancer gets cured. I had to learn that is not always the case with ovarian cancer. We have to learn more about this disease and fund more research to help save more women,” says Bettina. “We need more answers, and this is why I am determined to lead the Walk in my community.”
There’s still time to register for, or donate to, the 2020 Walk today at ovariancancerwalkofhope.ca
— Ovarian Cancer Canada